If Tetris is the first step to bring Game Boy to the US market, then Pokemon is the springboard for Nintendo to become a true billionaire in the game industry.
Continuing the article on the glorious 30th anniversary of the Game Boy, if at the beginning of Nintendo had captured the US market with Tetris, but that was not enough to go further. By 1996, another legendary game appeared and had the ability to turn Nintendo into a true giant, that is Pokemon.
But before Pokemon fly to the US and achieve the success we all know, its journey is quite interesting. There are two reasons why Nintendo executives in the United States are concerned about the success of Pokemon , the first is the length is too large for a Game Boy game, when the content of Pokémon Red and Blue at that time kept increasing. Over time, the developers fear that there will be no way to deliver them to the world.
The second reason is more important about the local culture, if in Japan the game version of Pokemon is supported greatly by Anime, manga and many other toys, in the US these things are still completely strange. Children will not be interested in a game with content so big that they absolutely do not know anything.
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Another problem was directly related to the Game Boy hardware, as Nintendo managers in the US worried that its monotonous black and white image would hardly attract players to Pokemon. At that time Nintendo was pretty much inferior to Sony and Sega about the coolest character design for teenagers, its tall buildings didn’t like it at all and they put Hope a lot on Pokemon.
If it wants to release Pokemon successfully in the US market and beyond to the world, Nintendo will have to create an ecosystem similar to what it has done in Japan, including: manga, comic, anime, trading card game and even toys. But if Pokemon were to succeed in Japan, at least Nintendo would like to try to see its potential in the US market.
There have been many opinions raised about whether to change the name, the structure of the game or the number of Pokemon appear. But in the end, Nintendo decided to keep all 151 of the original Pokemon unchanged, and they reached an agreement with 4Kids Entertainment to help with the release of sideline products for the game. Finally, the legendary ” Gotta catch ’em all ” was chosen to shape the series.
Nintendo plans to show the anime about Pokemon a few weeks before the game is released, to give viewers a relatively good view of the game, as well as to ignore the prejudice of a game that sounds too long on the console. Hand like Game Boy. But things were not going well for Nintendo, as TV channels were not very keen on Pokemon and were quite hesitant to get it on air.
4Kids Entertainment has proposed changing the approach, whereby Nintendo will use more direct ways to bring Pokemon directly to viewers. Golin Harris, who at the time was the head of Nintendo North America’s advertising division, had a very unique idea: they would turn 10 Volkswagen Beetles into the shape of a Pikachu.
Next, there will be 10 free actors in the typical yellow costume parachuting from the sky of Topeka City (Kansas), they will drive these Volkswagen Pikachu across the United States, advertising to everyone about Pokemon as well as the demo. The campaign was so successful that Topeka later became known as ToPikachu, and Volkswagen Pikachu cars became a symbol of Pokemon.
Nintendo spent about $ 20 million (on par with the time when Game Boy was brought to the US) for this campaign, and they finally got the results when Warner Bros. put Pokemon anime on the air and screen it all over the country. The Pokemon craze quickly became a phenomenon when it topped the list of the most popular anime 14 weeks in a row, paving the way for the first movie to appear only half a year later with huge sales for Nintendo.
As for the Pokemon game that landed on Game Boy, it was even better for Nintendo when they sold 400,000 copies in just the first week, more than half a year later that number increased to 10 and ended the round. his life with 31 million copies worldwide. By the end of 1999, that was just over a year after Pokemon debuted in the US, sales of this series had skyrocketed to more than $ 7 billion – an unbelievable number at the time.
It can be said that Pokemon has almost single-handedly turned Nintendo into the current big force, none of Nintendo’s titles have achieved the same success as the Pokemon series. Within 4 years of its launch, Pokemon has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, bigger than anything ever appeared.